tv Charlie Rose WHUT January 3, 2013 10:00am-11:00am EST
>> rose: welcome to the program. tonight, we talk about the mobile revolution in the united states and around the world with paul jacobs. he is the c.e.o. of qualcomm. >> there's a lot of opportunities for us. i mean, obviously, the smartphone, you know, trend is going to continue. it's growing like crazy. and now we're seeing p.c.s really being subsumed by smart foams, whether it's tabloids or the fact that microsoft put windows on top of our choips tiger. it's become mobile. i look farther into the future and say the wireless technol will be an enabling technology for a lot of other industries. >> rose: we continue with a conversation on the sounds of science with "radiolab" cohosts jad abumrad, and robert krulwich. >> there are moments in the busyness of your life when you're crossing the street, and you think, "i'm late to be
robert. i'm going to be five minutes late." and for a beat you think, "it's funny being late. what is time anyway? oh, forget it. i'm late." for me i want to live more deeply in those moments and this show is to take that flicker of a moment and stretch it and take it longer and get more deeply into it, investigate it, think about it, dream about it. >> rose: the mobile revolution and "radiolab" when we continue.
>> rose: paul jacobs is here. she the chairman and c.e.o. of qualcomm. it is the world's largest provider of chip technology for mobile and wireless communication. many of your favorite devices from smart phones to tablets are powered by qualcomm chips. the company has capitalize on the revolution mobile with a vision. it put in place more than a decade ago. today there are over one billion spar phones users around the globe. that number could double in the next few years as consumers in chine and india will access the internet for the first time on their mobile devices. qualcomm is poised to be at the center of that growth and much more. i'm pleased to have paul jacobs at this table for the first time. welcome. >> thank you very much, charlie. >> rose: take me back to your dad, who was an m.i.t. scientist. >> right. >> rose: what was his vision we created qualcomm? >> me had had a previous company before that called linkabit. and he was one of these world
experts on digital communication theor. we all think everything is digital today. back then it was all analog and digital was hard to do. this was all theoretical when it started. and he started linkabit, and basically you could do enough computation, and it was sort of expensive enough you could only use it for military and space communication. then he goes on to start qualcomm, and they didn't really have an idea for products when it started. it was just seven people got together who knew the kind of theory, and they said, "okay, we're going to go on" -- >> rose: and believed it was the future. >> it was definitely the future. but what happened was computation became so cheap they could tuz for commercial and consumer applications. so that really was the start of the company. it wasn't that they thought of that specifically, but it turned out that way, and now we have these, you know, incredible cell phones that do an amazing amount of computation. >> rose: and where does his sort of stewardship end and yours begin? >> i took over as c.e.o. in 2005, and i took over as chairman in 2009. but the thing that happened
between us was that i mostly focused on mcs of the technology. and heex toed on making the radio link better and better and better. so i was looking at the radio link as kind can have a pipe. and he was thinking i need to make that pipe bigger, fatter, more stuff through it. so in 2005, it was kind of the time frame when wireless internet became something that was more mainstream. obviously, things like the iphone really helped break that into people's minds. but that transition happened right around that time. so it was a focus of the company from being a radio technology company to being much broader, all sorts wireless technology, and the application of it. >> rose: you saw smart phones early. >> oh, yeah. i did -- >> rose: or mobile devices. >> we put the internet protocols into cell phones in the early '90ss before people knew what the internet was. and i did a phone with palm very early on, when palm pilots -- >> rose: i remember, yes gee,
a funny story, i had an apple newton at the time, and i tried to do a deal with aptoll put a radio inside the apple newton and make that into a smart phone and they weren't so interested and i went across the street to palm and i was carrying my apple newton and i thought this probably wasn't the best thing but i was using it to take my notes. they had a palm pilot brochure shaped like a palm pilot. i scotch taped it on top of my newton and i put down and they're like, othe, "okay, we'll talk to you." it all worked out. i believed in the notion of connected devices. i was sitting on a beach in maui and they just turned on the cellular system we created and i had this device with me. and there was an old search engine alta vista. and i typed in "maui sushi." and i got the best soucep restaurant in if maui. these things are dead. the future really is connected
devices. this was the end of the 90, '97, '98 time frame. >> rose: now we're on the eve of 2013. where are we going? >> oh, there are a lot of opportunities for us. obviously, the smart phone, you know, trend is is going to continue. it's growing like crazy. and now we're seeing pcs really being subsumed by smart phones, whether it's tablets or the fact that microsoft put windows on top of our chips for example. it's become mobile. but then i look out even farther in the future and say this wireless technology is going to be an enabling technology for a lot of other industries. one of the areas we're really focused on is health care. it's such a huge -- >> rose: i find this really exciting. this has to do with sensors and things like that. explean this to us. >> the phone is going to sit at the center of a web of sense of sensors you will have on where you are can of your body. you may have them inside your body. let me tell you something that is pretty cool.
there is a researcher we're working with who will put a tiny, tiny little chip inside where you are bloodstream -- >> rose: inside your bloodstream. >> they'll inject it, and maybe lodge in your wrist and it will sit there and look for certain indicators that in two weeks you might have a heart attack. you can imagine that? your phone will ring -- >> rose: it will be able to read the messages. >> two weeks ahead of time that you're going to have a heart attack soap your phone will ring and tell you to go to the doctor. imagine that. >> rose: that's real. >> that is stuff that's in the lab right now. people are working on that right now. >> rose: and the engineers believe in it? >> we believe in it. it's not that insane to think people will have stuff inside their body. i know people with pacemakers, and there have been studies that show if your pacemake ser connected versus nonconnected it improves if mortality rates 50%. >> rose: how does that work, your pacemaker is connected -- >> so it can be read remotely. you might have a problem, and "i'll go to the clinic or not" and by the time you go, it may
be too late whereas if you have that monitored all the time they can check that out and say, "hey, you better come in." there was a thing where you wore the sensors, the kind of sensors when you get your treadmill checkup. they plug this into a piracy p.d.a. there was a guy sit may go hospital bed and they called him up and said, "you are looking bad. you need to go to the hospital." and he said, "i am in the hospital." and they said, "call the nurse right away. you really need a nurse." and it saved his life. >> rose: in emerging nations, where they have not had land lines, it oppose up the future by skipping a generation. >> yeah. i mean, it really is. and you see the kind of adoption rates that are going on there, just huge -- >> rose: there are a billion smart phones? >> so, let's just take chine pap there are a billion connections in china right now, and about 27% of throws what i call mobile
broadband. why are people using that stuff? we just did the survey with "time" magazine, and it shows people are using that instead of a computer nape don't have the computer. 84% of people read their news on a smart phone, and the u.s., it's less than a third of people interested on a smart phone. >> rose: around the world it's 88%? >> that people around the world-- no, people around-- people in china are using it 84% to read the news. and in the united states, less than a third. it's just fascinating. these people use it in ways that we think we're advanced in the united states, and yet, in china, in india, you see people using it for all these different entertainment and information applications, and they're ahead us because that's the only way that they get access to that stuff. >> rose: it's a huge market for you. >> it's a huge market. smart phones, there will be five billion smart phones sold between now and 2016. >> rose: 5 billion in the next
three years. >> between 2013 -- >> rose: here's the opening question from-- this is a story in the ""wall street journal" today." qualcomm c.e.o. foresees home base stations. noose what that? >> so this is an interesting thing. right now everybody wants to get all this data on their smart phone and they're upset when it doesn't work that well. the other thing they're upset is they pay a lot to the wireless operator and the wireless operator sometimes doesn't give them as much data as they'd like. and we were thinking we need get 10 to 12 times more capacity. n.t.b. from japan comes in and says we want 1,000 times more. we say 1,000. what are we going to do? it turns out the small cell idea is the idea. you will have these things, the size of a pack of cards. it will cost less than a cell phone because it's basically built like a cell phone but doesn't have a screen or memory or battery and you plug it into the squall it will give you very
high data rates. it will also serve the people coming by outside the house, and it turns out that if you just get these small cells into a few people's houses, most of the traffic of the network ends up on the small cells. so you need the big network still, the one that we all use, but it doesn't have enough capacity for all of us to download videos all the time, so most of the traffic goes on to the small cells. >> rose: how much growth is left in the smart phone wave. a lot? >> it's amazing. like i said, five billion-- the growth rates this year-- just the first half of this year, there were 300 million smart phones sold. that was up -- >> rose: 300 in the first what-- >> first half the of the year. >> rose: the first six months of. 2012, 300 million. >> that's only 39% of all the devices shipped. so there's still a long way to go. next year the projections are basically half of all phones shipped will be smart phones which is really amazing. when i was running the handset business in the early days of qualcomm, you were lucky if you
could sell 10% of high-end phones and now everybody wants these things. >> rose: what's the place for tablets in all this? >> well, tablet, that's the next thing. everybody is interested-- obviously the ipad is one really selling well but there's a lot of competition coming whether from google tablets or as we talked earlier, microsoft tablets are come along. there's a lot of focus on that. we're doing a lot of cool things with it, whether the health care stuff we talked about, but also education. we're working with various companies to try and get tablets into the schools so that kids will learn in a school the way that they learn at home. they use rich media. they click. they get more information. i mean, being an engineer, i always think it's strange that i have a physics textbook where they show me an experiment and it's just kind of drawn on a piece of paper, whereas you take a tablet, that thing will be live. i'll be able to play around with it and see how things react and so forth. i really think there's a huge
opportunity. we have to deal with the fact that kids might drop their tablets and break them. we have to make them robust and get the right curriculum. >> rose: one tablet two tablets, or 100 tablets emerge? >> i think somewhere between two and 100. i mean, there's a big world up on the there. so there's lots of other place where's people are trying to drive -- > drive-- it india's got a government project a very low-cost tablet. turkey has an education tablet project. governments are getting involved, particularly in the education space. so i think you're going to see a lot. actually, what's going on that i find fascinating, also, is just the degree of innovation. your p.c. looked the same for decade-- you know, decades, maybe a decade and a half. it was this black thing. now you have all these tablets coming out and you see different size, shapes. my wife carries a thing called a
thablet, halfway between a phone and tablet. she likes it because it's a bigger screen and she can stick it in her purse. we're gog see an amazing amount of innovation going on. >> rose: your business will be developing better and better and better processors. was in earlier stage it was intel that drove the business by developing better and better processors. >> right, so in the case of a mobile device, though, a processor is more than just doing computation. it's also doing the connectist into the network, so the radio piece of it is there. and then we also emalate game consuls. there are really good graphics capabilities. and you also have to process your voice or do the multimedia stuff. so there are dipping tap process nors there. there's connectist like wifi and blue tooth. our claim to fame is we integrate more things into one piece of silicon than any of our competitors do, and that's what allows us to be the most
successful and we're number one in terms of weiss chips. >> rose: how important to your success has been your relationship with apple? >> oh, it's been very important. they're a great company. they really did a lot of work to popularize the notion of the wireless internet. like i said, we were putting the internet protocols in the phone in the early 90s, but it wasn't really breaking through to the mainstream. and -- >> rose: what caused the breakthrough? >> i think, you know, apsell an amazing marketing company. they did that. they made some user interface things they did -- >> rose: the iphone perhaps was the driving force 20 expansion of mobile? >> it was happening, but i think that was helped the curve really ramp up. and it raised the bar. people were, obviously, building smart phones all along and doing this. but i do think-- you know, steve jobs had a way about him to really get in the mind of the consumer and popularize things. so they did that. and we had been doing things-- we built an app store in the early 2000s.
verizon still sells applications on your fepture phone through qualcomm's app store. but it didn't really transcend and get in the mainstream. >> rose: we all know moore's rule. what's the rule about the acceleration of processors today. >> moore's law is a very interesting thing right now. we can see just a if couple of generations out of the process technology where it's not clear that you get the economic benefit anymore. what happens is -- >> rose: you don't get the economic benefit-- >> a couple generations from now. which by the way are happening very fast. we'll go through new process technologies in the chip side upon, you know, a new one everyone year, basically, year, year and a half. so we where getting to the point where you can see out there, there might be a problem. we might not be able to get all this economic benefit, which there's a lot of value creation in the world based on the fact that chips keep getting cheaper and cheaper and have more and
more functionality in them. hopefully, smart engineers will come about and fig outer this is how we're going to get that next step and get the cost down. but right now, it's a little worrying. we do lookute and say a couple of more generations, it's definitely getting tougher. >> rose: don't you make your own smart phone? >> i did that in the past. it's-- that was a tough-- tough business. >> rose: everybody else is doing it? i asked jeff, he's thinking about it without saying he'll do it. but you've got google has gone and bought motorola. so-- >> well, you know, so we really are a horizontal enabling company. we want to build our chips and work with the broader -- >> rose: do you worry about cannibalizing your sales? is that what it would be? >> no, i worry about sis suede, my partners for working with us. there was a time when qualcomm had a handset and chip set business and all our customers believed we were keep the the best stuff for our own handset
business. our handset business was not profitable. we were learning our way back then. there was a time where we thought we had this phone where we were going to make all the money and one of the korean manufacturers came in is and dropped their prices at the end of the quarter and all that money went away. and woo & we said why are we beating our heads against the wall to do this? our partners do it better than us. ate the technology better, and we create the chips better. let us focus on what we were good at. let them focus on what they're good at, and we're all happy. our values are let's innovate, execute-- deliver the things we told people we were going to deliver-- but the third value is partner. qualcomm doesn't sell directly to the end user. >> rose: how much of your annual revenue comes from licensing? >> oh, it's-- actually, so 60% our revenues are from the chip, and about 35% of the revenues are from the licensing business. but if you look at the profitability, it's kind of flipped because the licensing business isn't very high-margin
business. on the other hand -- >> rose: that's in terms of growth, right? >> it takes a lot of r&d to create that. we're spending a lot on that. what we try to do is deliver all these innovations to the entire industry and that's yet license business is so good. we have 220 companies we have licenses with glgz gl in addition to what we talked about in terms of sensors on your body that will tell you what you should do, where else? jeff emmel was here, and everybody's looking at how to collect and analyze data. i mean, there's a wave of the future that's it. >> absolutely. so there's going to be hundreds of millions of sensors and connected devices in the world around us. >> rose: looking at everything and taking the temperature of everything and reporting back to a big brain which will assess it. >> it will report back to your phone. >> rose: which is a big brain. >> that is true. they're getting bigger and bigger for sure. what i think is going to happen
is the phone is going to be this thing that merges kind of cyberspace around us and physical space. i'll walk into an environment and there might be content available, say a media-- some show that got recorded and i want to download that. opener there might be a screen, and the screen might be able to talk to my phone and say, "i'm a screen. here's the resolution. here's how you talk to me. here's the protocols i support." and the phone says, "here's a content and i want to show it." or it might be speaks a cash register, a scale-- all these kinds of things that a phone might talk to. just like you said on the industrial side, all the air conditioning and heating and controls for the lighting and all that kind of stuff. you'll be able to have the phone talk to those things and wander through the environment. it will even work for people. you'll come in contact with other people and their phone might be bring out something your phone picks versa. and whatever information up to the share with me, or i want to
share with you, you'll have it automatically. i walk into a room and can't remember, "dimeet that person before? when was that? it's possible in the future, these things will just talk to each other. and they'll talk to all the things in the environment around us, too. that will happen pretty quickly. >> rose: it would be unfair of me to divulge this because for people who are fans of "momentland" there is a circumstance in which you see an episode involving shutting down somebody's pacemaker. >> yes. >> rose: is there a risk in terms of people having all these sensors that somehow they may communicate the wrong information or they may be. -- either inadvertenceulently or-- >> there's no question that there's an opportunity in any electrical system, any computing system for things to happen. now, in health care systems, there's generally a lot of redubbeddancy in those systems because they build them that way, so i think there's less risk in that case.
it is absolutely a focus of the industry to build better and better systems to deal with cyber security threats, and we all know hackers are out there and they will do things so you really need to spend a lot of effort to make sure you can stay one step ahead of what's going on there. and the industry really does focus on that. we put a lot of effort into hardware that goes into the chip set. we put a lot of effort into testing the software very, very thoroughly to look for things. it is schaaf a cat-and-mouse game. so you need to make sure you have a lot of redundancy in those kinds of mission critical systems. >> rose: you are going to be the primary key. ♪ speaker at the consumer electronics show. that's a role big leaders in the industry have held, people like bill gates and steve jobs and people like that. what do you have to do-- what is it that you want to explain and say to these people who know a lot about technology at this moment in time? >> i really want to project where the future's going to go
because we need people in the consumer electronics industry to work with us to fulfill this vision of the phone wandering through space and talking to all of these different devices around you. so we're going to talk to them about things like where is mobile computing going? where are smart phones going? how are we going it deal with this data demand that's so hume and so forth? and this notion they talked about, this digital sixth sense, the notion that you'll add an extra sense to your perception of the world around you which is the perception of electronic cyberspace, things associate with the world that's around you, and that goes along with all the stuff we've been talking about, whether things in the environment, things on your body, things in your car. and we're going to have i think a pretty interesting discussion about that. i have a lot of great guests that are going to come up and show really interesting things, and i think some surprises. so it's going to be fun. >> rose: what are the dates for this? >> january 7, i think, the
evening of january 7. it's right before c.e.s. starts. >> rose: what could go wrong in the future that you've laid out gimean, if you have over it-regulation, for example. india is a perfect example where they had to get spectrum allocated and in fact operators put money into building these networks out, and then the government came along and said, "oh, no, these licenses, they really weren't grant the right way," and they've created this whole issue of. do i actual-- can i actually transmit on that spectrum? i can run my service. the issue of regulation, the issue of not having enough spectrum available can harm us. there's more fundamental -- >> rose: is somebody addressing that? is the federal government addressing that? >> absolutely. the f.c.c. is on top of that and we've been talking with them about ideas how to free up more spectrum. the home base model that we were
talking about, you can use spectrum fair big system, you can use in your home more easily and it turns out there's more spectrum available there so you can get higher data rates and be more efficient. we've been working with the f.c.c. on those kinds of ideas. they've talked about alicate a very specific band for these kinds of base stations and i'm really excited about that opportunity. >> rose: do we need a broadband policy in america? >> i think it's working quite well. i don't feel the need for an industrial policy where the government comes down and they say thou shalt do this and this and this. things move extremely fast in this industry. the people in the industry, the companies can in the industry are very, very momentivated to continue to drive-- whether it's more bandwidth, more functionality in the device, more services. you can see what's going on already. people are excited by it. so you already have a lot of things going. now, people question will you guilt the coverage in the rural areas, for example? but there are companies working
on that as well. so all of these things tend to work themselves out as long as the fundamental things are done, like good spectrum policy, good policy that this intent vise investment and infrastructure. themselves to kinds of things are the important things for the government to get involved with. i don't think we need the government to choose winners and losers i losers in technology. >> rose: i've talked to bill gates about this many, many times, if in fact he was a teenager today, where might he want to go, what might he want to do? he will give you a reasoned argument that while souter science was the thing to do when he was at his age and saw it early and had opportunities and, therefore, dropped out of harvard to work with paul allen, at the same time, we are looking at a whole expansion in terms of bioissues. it's extraordinary development but it seems to me that the twicethe devices that
technology is delivering to us go hand in hand with that, health insurance us reach into the brain, to understand how this organ works, and to make the connections not only to it all the things that we are about, what it means to be human and all those big questions. >> i agree with you. >> rose: one is essentially tied to the other. >> no, i agree with you. and i've had this conversation with-- i have a son going to m.i.t. as a freshman. and i said, "are you going to go into electrical engineering, bio-engineering?" electrical engineering is great because it gives you a foundation. but i agree with you, wilogical science is interesting. san diego where we're based is a focussal point. we have telecom there because of us and other companie companies and we have great sciences, because of a number of places really world class in life sciences. one of the projects we have, a very far-out project we have in
our lab came out of neurosciences institute in la jolla as well where some scientists figured out how to build a model of the neuron that's computational very efficient, meaning you can do this. >> rose: work the model of the neuron. >> and we put them together and create a retina and create the cells that go behind a retina and if i show it a picture it says that's interesting, it's not interesting, and it can follow things around. we didn't program it. we just taught it. it's very fascinating and it works the way your rainworks. the neuron sends a little spike, and it trastles a certain amount of time and gets to the next neuron and there are spikes that all come together and when they add up another spike comes out. that's how your brain works inside and we're modeling that. >> rose: how close are we to artificial intelligence? >> it depends how you define that. so there are things right now that people used to define as artificial intelligence in terms of speech recognition, playing
chess, all those kinds of things. i think the broader question is, do these things-- is consciousness an emergent property? does it actually become fully intelligent and aware the way we think of them? it's kind of science fiction like. ip don't know the answer to that question. but i do know that we're building things that are modeling the way that your brain actually works. so we have ray robot with a camera on it, and it actually does the vision and motor control system. if you're standing there and you move tlooks at you, like a bird almost. so we're seeing things that look very biological. so where does that go? it's very hard to tell at this point. >> rose: when you look at the internet and you think of all the contributions that were made by government-sponsored research, is the private sector prepared to take that responsibility? can it take that responsibility? >> i think the private sector can do its piece, but you see, look at our research universities, which are the best in the world. most of those are being funded
by federal grants. >> rose: right. >> and a lot of times companies, were so pressured on short-term earnings, many companies hollow out their r&d -- >> rose: meaning they cut it out? >> yeah, they cut it out. you look at a company like qualcomm. we can afford to invest for very long-term bets so we do, but there are not that many companies able to do that. un google does a very similar thing. they invest for long term, microsoft does it. look what happened to bell labs. bell labs is a shadow was what it was. it's a private sector thing poopts very scary. i think there is a huge place for the government in that, but not necessarily making all of choices, but providing the infrastructure so that great researchers stay in the united states and they do the research and they contribute that to the general knowledge. because a lot of incredible things have come out of government-sponsored research. >> rose: it's great to have you here, paul jacobs, c.e.o. of
qualcomm, thank you. >> thank you. >> rose: pleasure. >> jad abumrad and robert krulwich are here, cohosts of "radiolab," devoted to ideas such as space, time, and mortality. it it's said they have digested all the storytelling and production tricks of everybody in public radio before them, invented some slick moves of their own andeated the rarest thinyou can create in any medium air, new aesthettic. here's a look and a listen inside "radiolab." >> i'm gathering that from that point forward, you began to discover that these algorithms were everywhere in the market. >> yes, and growing. >> what are some of the algorithm algorithms and what are some of their strategies? >> the reason it turns on actually is because it gets there, brings a bunch of friends over and there are a whole bunch of molecules.
>> you are listening to "radiolab"... lab... lab, from... ynyc. >> it's a show that asks to you look around, and when you care seriously about something, to look deeply and go all the way in. >> i want to understand as bestaise can how this works. >> there are these kinds of multiple layers. >> what is the question you would want to know? >> and the sound, the music, the theater is one way of kind of announcing that multiplicity. can. >> it activates the release of adrenaline and nora, dredge lin. >> he says those two chemicals kick off certain hormonal systems. >> it has to feel somehow intimate like two people chat at breakfast and sewer realistic and imaginable. >> the golfer hits the ball down the fairway, and the ball lands
on a particular blade of grass. if the blade of grass could talk the blade grass would say, "oh, my. what are the odds that that ball out of the all of billions blades grass-- >> me! it lands on me. >> you start with a lofty idea, and start solo on the ground in such an unusual and special place, you make people's tongues fall out of their mouths. >> that's awesome! >> often we don't know until we're really far down the road investigating something what's going to work for a show. >> ... a couple of takes clearly putting robert in the room with them would work well. >> we have an expression where some subjects get so hard and so dense and so difficult, you think, how am i ever going to get out of here? >> the protagonist of the movie is not the peanut butter or blanket. it's the cleaning lady that comes in and wipes the peanut
butter up. >> we stumbled upon this word-- >> i have a five-syllable belle word-- >> stochit acsissity. >> what are the odds somebody somewhere. >> wins the lottery twice? >> in fact the answer to that it it would be very surprising if it didn't happen repeatedly. >> i think we knew ahead of time we wanted to start way coincidence, something that would be completely shocking. >> a guy who won the lottery five times or won the lottery twice in one day. >> we land on the story about one 10-year-old girl-- >> a 10-year-old girl named laura buckton, lets go upon a balloon-- >> past worcester. >> past millions of people. >> people with different lives, different names. >> gloucester. >> and lands in the backyard of a 10-year-old girl-- >> girl number two, can you
introduce yourself? >> i'm laura buckton? >> what? how the hell could that happen? when we asked the two 10-year-old girls if what happened to thesms a miracle-- >> the chance is so unlikely there must be some kind of reason. >> what's phrase? >> it was a very, very lucky wind. >> a lucky wind. >> yes. >> just a lucky wind, really. >> it seemed like a magical story. >> this was bound to happen. statistically, this was going to happen some time to someone. >> fair enough, really, because it just happens to be us, and it it we're statistics. >> we can talk about the math of the miraculous inside that story of these two 10 girls. >> we if put jad robert on a magical roller coaster of feeling like there's magic in the air. >> it's not just an idea. it's not just science or a philosophical thought. i want to see where those thoughts and ideas hitthe streets. i want to see where they
actually collide with real stuff. that's kind of everything we're doing, i think. >> rose: i am pleased to have robert krulwich and jad abumrad here at this table. welcome. what is "radiolab"? >> well... ( laughter ) >> that's a really-- it's a very hard question. as ira said, there's a profound active invention going on here. everybody is-- there are a lot of people in our business who know how to tell stories, but if you think about it, there are beats in those stories. there are noises and silences and highs and low, and jad was able to take very complex thoughts that would normally. frighten an average person, and he created somehow the ability to make that thing just flow. and so you listen to this show, which is about tough, big ideaes, and because it jad's cutting it, there is something
just liquid. fantastic about it. it just pours over you, and you find yourself sitting there thinking, i still understand this. i still understand this. and oh, my god,. for the last six minutes i've been smart. it's that kind of thing. >> it's some kind of weird joy ride through the landscape of an idea. >> rose: so how does the collaboration work? >> well, i mean, we have a big team now. it started really just robert, myself, and alan horn, the executive producer. now we have going to 12 people. we all get together every friday. we bat around stories. and from there, there's this process of darwinian natural selection. i'll bring him something and he'll immediately viciously poke holes in it, and i'll do the same to him. no, no, no. that's what i want. that's what you want. you kind of let-- see if you can beat the other guy.
"what do you think about this story?" and you tell it, and he goes, "i don't know that middle part." and you go back to the drawing board. and we do that for each other. eventually, if i can beat limb and he can beat me -- >> rose: you find the beat. >> yeah, we find that beat. >> that's pretty much what it is. >> rose: is science a crucial element in this? >> we'll differ on that, too. i think it is. i think these are really interesting subjects. you know, where does consciousness come from? or -- >> rose: that's as big as it gets. >> yes. but i think we let it go where it's going to go. so if suddenly we're on a race track with athletes, or suddenly we're with actors or suddenly in the middle of a shakespeare play, that's fine, as long as it's still referring back to this idea. what happens is when you listen to this show, you'll go on one story and then another in a different area, and then another. and at the end of the hour, you think, wow, all of those actual he talked to each other kind of coolly and interestingly. it's 1 plus 1 plus 1 equals 7 if
we do it right. >> science is crucial in that it's one of the polarities we play with. i always feel like we end up in the middle of science and something else. >> rose: taking complex ideas and being able to create a story with them to illustrate them and to have people experience them is is what his genius always was, and yours, with too. >> robert actually eye remember one were our first breakfasts, i forget what we were talking about-- maybe the science of memory-- but. , see, you pretend europe a cutter, but really what you are-- and this is why whereyou're a real genius-- he's a seducer. he'll seducer down the rabbit hole. >> rose: come with me. >> come, come, come, and before you know it, europe in a different world. >> that's-- if you're going to--
two words. >> hyphen. >> rose: so "radiolab" has become what? >> well, it started out as a radio show, and just that. somewhere along the way, it expanded into a radio show/podcast. because. i guess of steve jobs, expi and ipods being all over the world. if you become a spoken word program in america that goes high on the charts, it's not unlikely that in moroako or belize or belarus, after you listen to jay-z, and you're 17, and you want to think something else, you go to the spoken word, and there are these things, including "radiolab," and what's happened in the last year or two, threfs an audience growing very, very fast all over the world. >> rose: because people can access it? >> because people go to a computer and go to a satellite and pull us down. it's a little bit like falling
into the future, i think, sometimes. >> rose: "falling into the future." >> here's an experience that happened. i was giving a commencement speech, got on the plane, went to istanbul, went to tel aviv, got on the train, headed to haifa. i fall asleep. i'm look at the mediterranean, and when i make up there's no mediterranean. there's barbed wire. i thought where am i? i had gone to lebanon. that was never my intention. so i get out of the train, and i don't know how to get back to haifa. i slept through haifa. there are a bunch of kids there from some parachute unit, and i say, "is there anybody here who has anyone who has a car and is going to haifa?" the guy looks at me-- like a 20-year-old parachutist, and he said, "are you from 'radiolab'?" i thought oh, my god. >> rose: he said that? >> yes. >> rose: he recognized the voice. >> yeah, yeah. that's just -- >> rose: that's a smart kid, too.
>> well, yeah, but that's a thint that something really interesting is going on in the world. if you're here making noises for the home team, there's a huge leak in your system to everywhere else. >> the borders are really porous right now. your question, what is are are "radiolab" now? who knows? next year it will be something slightly different, i think. > think. >> rose: what do you think the listener, the viewer, is in search of? >> i can only answer that personally. i don't know. i find when i make the show, maybe the same way, i don't know, to think about the audience is a little too terrifying. so i kind of filter it for my own perspective. >> rose: you go right to your own curiosity? >> yes and those around you, you watch their eyes and when their eyes light up-- for me, there are moments in the busyness of your life and europe crossing the street and you think, "i'm late to be robert. i'm going to be five minutes late." and for a beat you think, "it's
funny being late. what is time anyway? what does it mean-- oh, forget ti'm late." for me, i always want to live more deeply in those moments will so this show is to take that flicker of a moment and stretch it and make it longer and get more deeply into it, to really investigate it and think about it and dream about it. >> rose: what have you learned about telling stories since i knew you way back when? >> jad was the great instructor for me. i had gotten a little bit boring to my children, to be honest opinion so i would go on television-- you know how it is, when you sculpted it, you want them to notice every little beautiful breath you've taken. and my kids were like getting up in the living room and walking out in the middle-- i didn't want-- walking out what, are you going to do? you're a exparnt you just sit there crying tears on the inside. then jad starts to cut can these things. can and, you know, i didn't know the power of it at first. but whatever he did to what i had to say stopped my kids
cold. they couldn't break away. so i realized something that i didn't know. which is that when you're in the business of storytelling tyou're filled with all kinds of sounds that tu-- comedians you've listened to, jingles you've heard, machines that have surrounded you your life. and those sounds fills you up, and those are the sounds you have when you're telling a story. but if 25 years pass,let sound-- it's not spoken about and it's not knowledge, but there is music and a tale, and you better be in the right generational mode and off of a sudden i found out-- because he's always afraid i'm going burst into a "my fair lady "tune. he it doesn't like broadway. highs tech no guy, so he likes speech. and somehow, in the way he took these words and phrases and sounds he made them utterly
interesting to people who are younger. and i didn't realize that this business is deeply musical before and i now realize it is. >> rose: that's what i was going to ask you. is sound as important as sight? no. >> rose: that's a big idea. >> sound is definitely the first thing to come online when you're in this sort of dark space. for me, i've heard people talk about dividing people into sound people, sight people, touch people. i think i am a sound and touch person more than anything. but for me, what i find is that the musicality of the show we make isn't simply a style. it's somehow the lens through which we see everything, like music as a metaphor is a way to example science. it's a way to example the world. it's a way to think about life. and so for me the music-- i was trained as a musician. i grew up as a musician, pretty
much right up until the moment "radiolab" began i thought i would be writing moving for films. nowy see that as a lens that let me see stuff outside of music. i think fighter me, for us-- did i say sight? i think sound for me and the show isn't just a sense. it's somehow more than that. >> rose: down hewittue know this story-- donahueit, the creator of the "60 minutes," the late donahuei don don hewit, used to want to turn away from the monitor and listen to the voices to see if it had something that he wanted to hear in every "60 minutes" piece. >> yeah. actually, it's a very interesting question to me. i don't know that i would think sound trumps sight all the time. i know if i were to take my hair and drop it over my fored and be uncombed in your presence most
people watch, couldn't get paste that fact and they'd be like, "why doesn't he comb his hair?" "missiles are going into your kitchen at this moment. and why isn't his hair combed! in a sense, the eye blocks the ear. but there are voluptuous eyes out there that know how to excuse yoto seduceue. >> rose: you spent considerable amounts of time on the pieces you did and how to present an idea visually. you had characters and everything else. >> we still do that, but, yeah, it's-- i would hope as the devices that people have to listen to news become ever more portable and ever under ordinary and each more omniproperty, sole you'll be watching tv or listenninglying to the radio or typing on your wrist or sun glaz moving from one to the other,
sight to sound-- will become much more fluent. people won't say i'll watch tv or listen to the radio. they'll say i'm googd that thing. and unanimous move with your mood and the occasion. it will be very fluent. and you better be good at all of it. >> i think there's some way in which we're always making movies even when we're working with sound. i grew up on movies, and to me working in radio is still coming in through the side door to make movies in this sense. it's to paint pictures in people's heads. it's not the pictures you show them. it's the picture they say make. in some ways, that coauthorship is empathetic. you and the listener are working together and you're kind of holding hands in some sense. but you're still making a movie affect. i feel like in some weird way, the absence of sight makes sight trump sound even more than it would otherwise. that's how it works for me.
>> i could tell you something, and you could see it in your head more vividly because are you making it in your head. you don't have to state trooper at a box where somebody made it for you. upon upon you're working together. >> that's very cool. >> that's true about music. people who listen to music, i don't know what it is, but they become deeply invited. they dance with it, sort of. >> rose: do you like different kinds of music. >> oh, yeah, yeah. you called me a tech no guy earlier. that's not fair. >> rose: what are you? >> i'm an everything kind of guy. i do like a lot of electronic music. i like a lot of wider, classical music-- >> someone explained to me-- i it didn't know what tech no is. >> i do like tech no. >-- the if storytelling is
different between us and i think it has to do with the music you listen to growing up. and mine are a little more jagged and fast and a bit more frawrkted in the way electronic muc tend to be. >> we'll be talking about some kind of chemistry or something, and then the music will somehow you you-- it doesn't illustrate. it just sits in some small level of-- it makes it easier for you to hear the words. it's really interesting. do you think-- i. >> rose: this is my experience and i never quite understood it. but when i came to television i sort of skipped everything and went right to television. the idea of sitting in an editing room, i could see in my mind, i would figure out this goes here and this goes here and this is the narrative flow. it's one of the few skills i had. you have that. >> yeah. >> rose: you get editing. >> oh, yeah.
it's as close to a religion as i have. >> rose: me, too. it really is the idea of being able to see know-- >> when you look at his computer screen, you know, there's going to be a level of people going blip, blip, blip, blip. and then there's going to be something, anding? he fixed and something else he extended, and some about-bop he were, and some silences and a jagged thing and it gets multi, multi, multilayered. it's like watching somebody build a saturn rocket of sound. it's got layer upon layer. in the end, you don't know why you're being moved, but when you look at his computer screen you realize that there were hours and hours of thought going into just-- >> it's this feeling of stepping up on the of time, too. you have the chance to talk to so many interesting, smart people. and you have the chance to include your own noises inside the gaps of those conversations. and you bring all those different voices and different
ideas into confluence on the computer, and so it's a wonderfully kind of inceltic act-- or synthesizing act, i mean-- of making meaning out of disparate voices. the editing is where time passes . >> rose: walter merch was a hero? >> yeah, yeah. >> rose: he taught what? >> well, he's a wonderful film editor. he did "the god father." he's a great thinker about edtick. there's this-- he's almost a psychologist of it editing. why does it always work on cut on the blink? that was one of the founding insights -- >> an actor blinked in a scene, he cult scene. for some reason that was perfectly the right time. >> and that leads him to extended musings on what are the scenes of ordinary life? the scenes are when you blink. you're the editor saying,
"cut." and now europe in a new scene. >> the best story jad ever told was from walter. at wrvr, a church radio station, a big library of music. one day, because he was just sort of built this way, he decided to listen to gregorian chants all day, all night. goes into the room, closes the door, and he come out after 12 hoursuf it chants, and with he says to the d.j., what is that? and he goes, "beethoven." so this is a man who can go deep with sound. >> yeah, he goes deep. >> rose: all right, we have to do this again. so thank you very much for coming. >> of course. thanks for having us. >> rose: we'll do this again. "radiolab" airs on wnyc in new york at 8:00 p.m. on thursday evenings and at noon on saturdays on npr failates.